Just following orders

But thankfully, one of Milgram’s findings was not-so depressing. In later experiments, he found that obedience levels were significantly reduced by the presence of rebellious peers. If there were other participants that refused to go along with the experimenter’s orders, 36 out of 40 teachers refused to deliver maximum shock to the students.

That’s pretty good. That means although most people will not fight against something they feel is wrong, it really only takes one strong individual to stand up and say “Hey, this isn’t right. I won’t do this” to get people to follow suit and start thinking for themselves again. Perhaps that fact isn’t really too comforting, but it does allow for us to maintain a little bit of hope. If we have strong enough leaders, who are unwilling to sacrifice what they feel is right even when threatened with punishment from those in a position of power, perhaps we still have a chance at making the world a better place.

Not the meaning of life

But “achieving happiness” is an impossible goal, at least when happiness is viewed as something to be achieved. It’s hard to know what it truly means to be “happy.” There’s no scale to measure happiness by, even on a personal scale, and that makes it difficult to determine that we are fully and completely satisfied with life. How can we search for something when we have absolutely no idea what it would mean to actually find it? We simply can’t. This makes “achieving happiness” an impossible goal, and impossible goals are ones that must surely be met with imminent disappointment and failure.

People could talk for millennia about whether or not humans will ever find happiness; they have. So I suppose regardless of whether or not happiness can ever be found, I’d really like to know, above all, what exactly makes happiness so important that we should dedicate our lives to it and want it so badly. In my head, happiness should be avoided. After all, it is actually the absence of happiness that helps us most grow as individuals — adversity strengthens us, and we learn through our mistakes. Personal development would not exist were we all perpetually content with exactly the way we already were.

Federal Climate Change Agenda Resonates With Californians

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board said in a statement to KQED that the environmental plan fit well with the state’s own conservation efforts.

“California benefits enormously from having the federal government step up with a climate program,” explained Nichols. “It can only enhance our activities if we have a strong federal partner.”

A report by the International Energy Agency shows that, without changes to current policies, the earth will warm by 3.6 to 5.3 degrees Celsius. On a conference call last Monday, Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, told the San Francisco Chronicle that we are currently “failing” — that the last time the earth was 3C warmer, sea level was more than 20 meters higher than it is today.

The future of public spaces, with Brooke Ray Rivera

“Build Public’s mission is so new, it’s such a novel application of tools that help facilitate public space improvements,” said Rivera. “We often encounter urban place-making problems that have not yet been solved. We’re inventing cutting-edge new systems, which often takes time and encounters a lot of resistance.”

She strives to push boundaries and involve diverse stakeholders in community programs and processes by building on an increasingly popular strategy of “tactical urbanism” — using cheap, easy, innovative ways to invigorate public spaces.

An example of this is the recent “parklet” movement, or the installation of pop-up community parks in parking spaces. Since its inception in 2005, the idea has taken hold in cities across the U.S. and started new conversations about creative developments of city space. Build Public builds on this momentum by creating permanent public spaces “able to withstand the test of time.”

Dr. George Benjamin, the executive director for the American Public Health Commission, said in a statement that the effects of climate change have disproportionate adverse health consequences for African Americans and Latinos. Studies of extreme heat have shown racial disparities in heat-related deaths, and Latinos (67%) and blacks (63%) are far more likely than whites (40%) or Asians (38%) to say global warming is a very serious threat.

According to a research paper published by Environmental Health Perspectives, urban tree canopy is an important local mitigating factor for extreme heat; its benefits, including reduced air and noise pollution, have been associated with reduced mortality. Research indicates that disparities in urban tree canopy are “usually in the direction of racial/ethnic minorities living in neighborhoods with lower tree coverage.”

Report claims inadequate resources at UC medical centers

“We put the report out as a call for help,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “When you press the call button, you’re not going to see someone show up. That’s bad patient care, and we want to see a change.”

The report identified systemic breakdowns and violations uncovered by the California Department of Public Health. In November 2012, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center received an F for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group, a health care organization that publishes an annual hospital-safety score.

“More oversight, transparency and accountability are needed to be sure we’re meeting standards and responsibilities,” Stenhouse said. “Our singular priority is that the UC medical system put patients first in all it does.”

The societal blame game

We are all to blame for the way society functions — not the other way around — because society itself is whatever we make it into. It’s not “society” forcing us to do things we don’t want to do; it’s each and every one of us making conscious decisions to starve ourselves, waste money on following trends, let TV raise our kids, get involved in drugs and alcohol, participate in activities that are overall detrimental to our well-being. I could blame my eating disorder on my mom’s illness, or on my friend’s tactlessness, or on the pressures placed on girls in our society to look skinny. But really, my eating disorder was the result of something that I knew was wrong but chose to do anyway. It was my fault.

Bay Area students react to Berkeley's new soda tax

The tax, known as Measure D, will increase the cost of certain sweetened beverages by $0.01 per ounce.

Anti-tax advertisements across Berkeley focused on the idea that “Measure D is not what it seems.” Opponents stressed that the measure failed to include milk products and 100-percent fruit juices, which can contain more twice the amount of sugar of other taxed beverages.

Beverage companies spent nearly $1.5 million fighting the proposal.

California EPA Points to Physical Signs of Climate Change Progression

Annual average air temperatures in California have increased by approximately 1.5 degrees since 1895. As a result of an increasing presence of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, most regions of the state have seen accelerated warming over the past three decades, with minimum temperatures increasing nearly twice as fast as maximum temperatures.

Climate change has also affected natural biological systems, as shifts in habitat elevation, changes in timing of growth stages, and increased vulnerability to wildfires or pathogens have threatened species’ abilities to survive.

UC Berkeley may combat grade inflation through new system

Historically, the average GPA at UC Berkeley has been markedly lower than at peer universities, potentially placing graduates at a disadvantage when finding a job or getting into graduate school. In 2005, the average grade awarded at UC Berkeley was a 3.24, compared to a 3.55 at Stanford University, according to the most recent data compiled by Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University geophysics professor who has researched grade inflation.

Diamond was “very uneducated on the subject of student loans” when he enrolled at NYU as a theatre arts student in 2012. Since then, he has had to take out over $100,000 in loans, forcing him to expedite his college experience.

Concerned over his debt, he chose his second major — computer science — based on the job market, rather than his passions.

“My generation tends to see college as the one and only path through life and, while it is incredibly important, I wish that we had been made more aware of alternate options, like trade schools or independent study,” Diamond explained. “In a world where you need a master’s degree to even get your foot in the door, it feels a lot more financially stable to go to a trade school, or to even drop out and start your own business.”

Wholesale Electricity Prices Have Increased by 59% In California

In New England and New York, pipeline constraints limited the delivery of natural gas, causing electricity prices in the region to exceed $200 per MWh during the summer. The Northwest, the region hit by the largest price increases, experienced declines in precipitation that led to reduced hydroelectric generation, making the region more dependent on gas-fired power and driving electricity prices up 82 percent.

Prices across California remain divergent due to the continued outage of two units at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. In what the EIA referred to as a “large and unusual” separation in power prices between the northern and southern Californian electricity grids, which have historically tracked each other closely. The spread has been attributed to the need for more-expensive generation in the region, including the use of local generation sources, to fill the shortage.

“It’s an opportune moment to take step back and say, ‘Look. If we’re going to build the kind of low-carbon future we need, I don’t see how to get there without significant reliance on nuclear energy,’” Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said in a statement to the OC Register. “For the first time in many, many years, we’re seeing a strong emerging consensus that it’s in the best interest of the country. We should take this opportunity to get it right, and do so with the stewardship of the environment, and preventing proliferation, uppermost in our minds.”

Escaping from yourself

I don’t think people can, even by any conscious attempt, choose to alter the things that truly make them who they are. When you get close enough to someone, chances are you’ll still know that person years from now as essentially the same person he or she used to be. Only the little things in people’s lives seem to ever change — little things like favorite colors, or names of girlfriends, or addresses or ages. Yet, a million of these little changes can sometimes feel as if there’s been a real, honest-to-God change in the individual.

And sometimes that’s really all you need to create a successful enough revision.

It’s true; you can’t escape from yourself. But that by no means implies that life can’t be lived the way you want to live it — innate qualities just have to be modified occasionally to fit different situations. Changing who you are in order to achieve a goal is tiresome and tedious, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, anything is possible.

The creation of a major financial market for the buying and selling of carbon permits will have large implications on a global scale. Already, around 20 percent of the world’s economies — including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the province of Quebec — already have carbon-pricing or cap-and-trade laws in place. Others, such as China, are moving forward with plans to implement such programs in its provinces.

“California’s law is one of the largest and boldest efforts to limit emissions on the planet,” said Nathaniel Keohane, an economist with the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement to the National Journal. “Until now, in the U.S., a carbon law has been hypothetical, theoretical. California has an opportunity to show that this works in practice. It can work as a lab for the rest of the country.”

Taylor Swift reaches out to girl injured by crossbow arrow

After being struck on her left thigh by a crossbow arrow while climbing on a play structure, 8-year-old Nadine Hairston kept calm by singing Taylor Swift songs with her teacher from minutes after she was shot until she arrived at the hospital.

Support in the Bay Area for Nadine has been massive. Cards, flowers, toys, food, clothing and a stuffed bunny have been delivered to her school in Marinwood, where she is enrolled as a third-grader.

Calif. Republican Tim Donnelly: Independents Have Power to Wield

Despite a decline in both Republican and Democratic voters in the state, independent voters now make up 20.8 percent of California registered voters. As nonpartisanship in California grows, the GOP will have a greater need in coming years to sway independents to vote Republican.

 

Tim Donnelly, a conservative assemblyman from Southern California and candidate for governor, noted the increasing power independents hold.

“The independents are the fastest growing demographic – they have power to wield,” he said. “They ought to show up at the table and start demanding answers to the issues.”

54 Billion Tons of CO2 Emissions Displaced By Nuclear Energy and Natural Gas

“Even the worst nuclear accident in history (Chernobyl) caused about 40 deaths these include 28 immediate responders and about 15 deaths caused among 6000 victims of excess cancers. There have been no deaths attributable to the Three Mile Island accident. And while the verdict on Fukushima is still not definitive, the latest report on the accident predicts no direct deaths and a much lower exposure to radiation for the surrounding population than that purported to lead to fatal cancers.”

“The bottom line is that, even assuming pessimistic scenarios, the number of deaths caused by nuclear power is a minuscule fraction of those lives which were saved by nuclear power replacing fossil fuels.”

Despite nuclear energy’s potential, Hansen and Kharecha found that an expansion of natural gas would not be as effective at saving lives and reducing carbon emissions:

“By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power.”

Many students supported efforts to raise the minimum wage as they emerged over the past year, as local businesses, labor unions and legislators met for public hearings and discussions.

“In a perfect world, a decent wage would be forced upon companies in order to keep their employees,” said Aidan Clark, a sophomore at the UC Berkeley. “But in a world where such an abundance of jobs does not exist, companies pay their employees less than adequate wages because they know that their employees don’t have the choice to simply walk out and go somewhere else. Minimum wage legislation ought to be passed and often raised because of the postulate that our job market is far from that utopia.”